What is Happening? Earlier this week, several trade media outlets reported that Dell was in talks to acquire one of its core software partners, Quest Software. Quest offers solutions designed to “simplify the management of IT across physical, virtual and cloud environments,” according to its website. Regardless of whether or not the acquisition occurs, Saugatuck sees this type of activity as another indicator of two key trends:

Enterprise IT leaders and organizations are looking to traditional, IT Master Brands (“comfort vendors,” as we call them) for ways to manage increasingly-uncertain IT architectures and environments; and

Traditional IT Master Brands are shifting their M&A activity to not only maintain their enterprise presence, but to establish or enhance credibility in a shifting, “boundary-free” IT and business environment.

Why is it Happening? Leading, competitive IT providers constantly acquire and divest other providers, technologies and services to maintain and improve their competitive positioning. They follow trends based on what they see a critical mass of enterprise customers doing. And what the providers see their customers doing now is not only moving to Cloud, but changing – really, re-architecting – their IT and business infrastructures to reflect changing ways of doing business, and to reflect increasing/changing business opportunities.

As clients of our CRS subscription research services know, Saugatuck believes that the confluence of Cloud, mobility, social/collaborative IT, and analytics mean that businesses and individuals are less encumbered by constraints of time and place, working within an emergent and shifting array of time- and location-independent computing capabilities, creating what Saugatuck calls the Boundary-free Enterprise (“Cloud Computing: Shifting Users Out of Boundaries, Vendors into Ecosystems”).

Enterprise IT leaders and organizations have just begun to research and understand how the realities of the Boundary-free Enterprise alter IT architectures, acquisition, and management. Saugatuck has developed a model of this emergent, malleable Master IT Architecture for 21st century business and IT realities (“Boundary-free Enterprise: Empowered by the New Master Architecture”).

A critical factor for IT leaders in such an environment is the ability to manage the environment while being comfortable enough to outsource aspect of IT and operations that have traditionally been kept in-house. Most want and expect traditional data center/infrastructure Master Brands such as Dell, HP and IBM to step up and deliver increased and improved management capabilities for the new master architecture, so we see Dell boosting its integration and management capabilities (e.g. Boomi, possibly Quest), IBM adding integrated systems and management capabilities into servers (e.g., PureSystems), and HP re-organizing to coordinate long-standing IT management software and services into Cloud-friendly lines of business (“HP Cloud Update: Solid Strategy and a Top-down Mandate”).

For an extended version of this Research Alert, visit Saugatuck Technology.